Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Day at the Lake Shore

Today's projects involved more cosmetic work on the Lake Shore Electric 150.  Frank's paint job still looks great, but there are plenty of opportunities for additions and corrections to the car's structure, what's left of it.  Today I started with a first coat of orange on the car's "letterboard", which never had any letters.  

Say, do you ever have any problems with dust buildup on your window sills?  Whatever you've got, it's probably nothing compared to this.

But of course, after a little brushing, there's a real improvement.

In the Local Nostalgia department, the John McKelvey collection provides this beautiful poster from 1988 of a nearby attraction.  I would have taken the kids there, but it was gone in the blink of an eye.

Next up was making some ersatz tack molding for the 150, so the edge of the roof will look more authentic.  Since it doesn't have to actually hold tacks, I used common pine, which is inexpensive and easy to work because it's so light in weight.  I took a Museum truck over to Woodstock to pick up a couple of 12' long pieces, and then started to mill them in our well-equipped shop.   It was a good day for working inside.

Then they are painted both sides with primer.   Gloss black will be next.

And here we see some visitors from Connecticut getting the VIP treatment from our esteemed Executive Director.  That's Galen Semprebon on the left, and Kelly Buffum.   Galen is the President of the Connecticut Trolley Museum at Warehouse Point, and we're discussing trading parts and so on.  It generally pays to be on good terms with other people in the same line of work.  And nobody is better at this sort of thing than Nick.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Diesel Daze

Frank writes...

I was at IRM on a Saturday this weekend, for a change, and it happened to be the first day of Diesel Days. Lucky me! I get to see diesels!

Above, just before the Parade of Power (why don't we have a cool name like that for the Trolley Parade?), the E5 with the Zephyr sits on Station 1 while UP 1848 and a caboose train sit on Station 2.
And the BN U30C, out of service at the moment although I'm not exactly sure why, was on display on the turntable leads alongside the two C&NW Dash 9s. A pair of modern UP "Heritage" units was also on loan and on display on the west wye. The weather, by the way, was gorgeous - mid-70s and classic Kodachrome skies much of the day.
So when I wasn't drooling over the embarrassment of dieselized riches to be had, I was working on Shaker Heights 18. Above is the former site of a badly rusted-out steel plate just inside the forward door (note that the car has only two doors, at least not counting the motorman's cab door). The door is to the right; to the left are the steps from the drop section in the middle of the car up to the floor in the front half of the car. I chipped some rust off of the framing members at this location and wire-wheeled off the surface rust in preparation for primer.
The car is over in Barn 13, so on my way back and forth on various tool-gathering missions, I observed Dave, Al, Jerry, and Tom working on getting a new sign installed on the east end of Barn 11, as shown above.
And in other sign news, above is a new addition to the Barn 4 workshop in the pit area. The CTA sign apparently came from the old West Shops complex, formerly the biggest shop for the Chicago Surface Lines and now still a workshop for the CTA. West Shops was where the CSL built a number of its own streetcars in the 1920s.
So here's the replacement piece of steel being test fit. A few minor adjustments are needed, plus I need to drill some holes where this piece will be bolted to the framing members. But definite progress is being made.
By later in the afternoon, the Buildings & Grounds crew had completed installation of the sign shown above. Barn 11 is known as the Milwaukee Road barn (half of it is, anyway) since the Milwaukee Road Historical Association has assisted financially with some of our recent barn construction.
And to finish out the afternoon, Richard Schauer and Greg Kepka helped me by meggering the motors on the 18. This is the first step in testing the electrical systems on the car and involves measuring how good the insulation on the motors is. The car's four motors meggered at 300k, 200k, 350k, and 600k ohms (motors #1 through #4 respectively) which is not great. We will try and dry them out using a light bulb left lit inside the motor case and see if the numbers improve. But none of the motors was grounded, so that's good.
And here's a shot of the 1754 showing more of the recent work by Tim Peters. He was hard at work on the car, as usual, and a few other people were working on projects in the Car Department as well. Eric and Ed were making progress on the Cleveland PCC, Bill was cleaning out the CTA "Baldy," and Buzz was doing window post work on Sand Springs 68. There's a lot happening!

Monday, August 7, 2017

A good time had by all

Frank writes...

Sunday was the annual Vintage Transport Extravaganza, and despite dire predictions of likely rain, not a drop fell in Union and it turned out to be a gorgeous day with what seemed like a strong crowd in attendance. I was particularly impressed by the turnout of antique cars; it seemed like there were about as many cars as usual including the usual fascinating assortment of trucks and miscellaneous oddities. My job for the day was running the Veracruz open car, shown above, with Chris Buck as my conductor. We ran a few trips in the morning, then a long midday break, then a few trips in the afternoon to reduce wear and tear on the car a bit. The car was extremely popular; most trips we were turning away people at some of the stops because every seat was filled.
And that's impressive given that there were three other cars on the streetcar line. During the afternoon we were following Milwaukee 972, shown above, which was only put into revenue service this year. Bob Opal was running the car and it sounds like it was pretty popular. The 3142 and 4391 were also on the car line with the North Shore train, CTA 4000s, steam coach train, and Zephyr holding down service on the main line.
I didn't get much of a chance to take photos, just a grab shot of a Model A (I think) on Central Avenue with the 3142 in the background as we were putting the open car away at the end of the da, but there are some really good shots here. Several of the car shop regulars were kept busy giving lunch breaks to the streetcar motormen, since we were busy enough that the streetcars couldn't be set out on a siding to take lunch, but they still found time to finish up inspection work on CRT 1797 and start inspection work on the 1268. They also put more primer on the trolley base for the 18, so that's much appreciated! And Norm, Jeff, and the blog's biggest fan from Ohio, Walt Stafa, were working on lining up and drilling more holes in the framing at the front end of Michigan Electric 28.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

More From Milwaukee

Here are some more pictures of the construction in Milwaukee, from Norm Krentel.

Adding concrete to the Wisconsin Ave station platform.

On Broadway, new concrete pole base

Bob Olson studies the new pole base.

 Looks north from St. Paul on 5th – end of track – at the Intermodal Terminal facility (bus – train)

On Jackson Street – in both of these images the old rail is still resting on the ties

Looks west on St. Paul Ave., at 5th Street – track turns north onto 5th and ends.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Illinois Terminal Car 233

In 1906, the rapidly-expanding Illinois Traction System ordered three deluxe interurban cars for long-distance operation in the planned tri-state system.  The cars were named Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana, obviously enough.  Of course, the IT never reached Indiana, and plans for this service were dropped.  The Missouri was rebuilt in 1910 into business car 233, and lasted until the end of electric service.  It is now preserved at IRM, and if you know the right people, such as Joel, you too can see its luxurious interior.

The only passenger steps are at the rear of the car, so we'll start at the back and work our way towards the front.

This is the hot-water heater for the car.

The rear platform has fancy match holders as well as match strikers.  Perhaps smoking was limited to the rear vestibule.

Inside the restroom.

Across from the restroom is a little bench.  Please be patient.

The car has a well-appointed kitchen, big enough for one cook.

The rear wall of the kitchen.

This is the rear wall of the main compartment; the couch can be made into a bed.

Inside the main compartment is a large table for business meetings.

With some more seats at the front.  These are also convertible into beds.

Electric fans for your comfort.

This is thought to be the only official Illinois Terminal typewriter in existence.  Ready to take a letter, Miss Jones?

The bedding is stored inside this cabinet.

And there's also another cabinet hiding some file drawers for company documents.

The motorman's cab, with its C6 controller.

And the back of the cab has the electrical equipment.

This is the front of the car.  As you can see, we are having a conference with executives from the Lake Shore Electric, another vast interurban system.  You will also notice an official IT spittoon.  This is a very high-class railroad, I'll have you know.

The ceiling at the front of the car has an unusual design.

I hope you enjoyed your tour.  Whatever your business needs, remember to ship via Illinois Traction!

Getting Ready

There was a lot going on today, so I'll try to keep the comments brief.

First, as mentioned last time, I noticed that there are two bolts missing in these brackets for the vestibule floor in the 36.  The back is certainly inaccessible, and I believe the brackets essentially keep the floor held down (as in case of a wreck) rather than hold the vestibule up.  I was unable to find a bolt that would mesh into anything, so we will just ignore this issue.  I am positive the vestibule will not fall off the car.

As Frank mentioned previously, the Steam Dept. guys straightened out our bent coupler drawbar quite nicely.  They have the tools, they have the talent.

 I didn't see Tom around, but decided to show my appreciation by installing it on the 321.  I couldn't find the nuts that hold the piping bracket to the coupler, but other than that, we're ready to couple onto a 100-car freight train and ...  well, maybe one or two.  What would Mr. Van Dorn say?

While over in Barn 11, there was an opportunity to photograph the TM line car D-22.  Frank painted it many years ago, and it looks a lot better than it actually is.

And in our pre-blog days, we specialized in display boards for favored pieces of equipment.

And next in line is North Shore 253, which also looks much better than it actually is.

Meanwhile, everybody's getting ready for the old car extravaganza.  This jewel is the best of the lot, in my biased opinion.  It wound up temporarily next to the Fannette waiting shelter.

And the track guys put an impressive collection of speeders on display in front of Barn 4.

And the B&G guys put signs all over the property for the various makes of vintage cars that will be on display tomorrow.

The 1630 was running, and is always popular with visitors.

 Illinois Terminal business car 233 is not normally open for visitors.  But if you're in the right place at the right time, you can get a guided tour.  Want to come along?  I know you do, so watch this space!

And then I decided to start on some more cosmetic work on the 150.  The front of the car looks particularly wretched.  It's not obvious, but there were screws and nails sticking out of the wood from various attempts to rebuild the car, and it was dangerous to brush against the end.   So let's start removing some of the phony additions.

 After some work, it may not look much better, but at least it's safer.

And I've started cutting out pieces of Masonite to patch over the end of the car.  This particular piece is pre-bent, which is quite convenient.

And I did a little more piping work for the sleet scrapers.

Meanwhile, my buddies in the Track Dept. were carefully putting the pride of the fleet in position in front of Barn 4.

Looking closely, you can even see the tread marks from the special Rail Type tires on the rail.  

By now, I probably don't have to whet your appetite for Vintage Transport.  Just be there!


My old friend Les Ascher sends us a link to an interesting site: the 1894 diary of a Chicago streetcar conductor.  If we only had an actual time machine....